A reader who received an advance copy of THE EXTENDED MIND just told me that he used this technique, described in the book, to get three colleagues on the same page in a meeting: Image
"Researchers recommend that we implement a specific sequence of actions in response to our teammates’ contributions: we should ACKNOWLEDGE, REPEAT, REPHRASE, AND ELABORATE ON what other group members say.
"Studies show that engaging in this kind of communication elicits more complete and comprehensive information.

It re-exposes the entire group to the information that was shared initially, improving group members’ understanding of and memory for that information.
"And it increases the accuracy of the information that is shared, a process that psychologists call 'error pruning.'

Although it may seem cumbersome or redundant, research suggests that this kind of enhanced communication is part of what makes EXPERT teamwork so effective.
"A study of airplane pilots, for example, found that experienced aviators regularly repeated, restated, and elaborated on what their fellow pilots said, while novice pilots failed to do so—
—and as a result, the less experienced pilots formed sparser and less accurate memories of their time in the air."

This simple procedure can increase a team's "collective intelligence"—their capacity to engage in intelligent thought as a group.

I also wonder if this practice could serve to make more equitable the way credit for good ideas is distributed.

From an (old) Washington Post article:

"When President Obama took office, two-thirds of his top aides were men.
"Women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored.

So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called 'amplification': When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it,
giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

'We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,' said one former Obama aide.
"Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.”

On Facebook, reader Ian Todd Stark adds: "Rephrasing what people said for the sake of shared memory is so valuable, but it definitely annoys people under some conditions."
"Some people are very focused on moving forward with a train of thought and this practice can feel very extraneous to them and create frustration that derails things."
"Two ways I’ve dealt with that: (1) develop higher level of sensitivity to when and how this is applied, treating it as a skill rather than a technique, and (2) establish a social norm for the participants so that they expect this and understand the purpose of it."

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More from @anniemurphypaul

29 May
Lovely insight from @GlenPearson in the London Free Press. We usually think of awe as being induced by a truly grand or majestic natural scene—and, research shows, the experience of awe acts as a "reset button" for the human brain, allowing us to see things afresh. Image
But awe can be inspired by more modest encounters with nature, Pearson reminds us. "Co-operating with the natural order produces within us a sense of awe by putting us in touch with things beyond our daily frame of reference," he writes.
"For all its familiarity, gardening is essentially a mystery —the process of growing lies beyond our complete understanding. Watching our gardens bloom reminds us that we are part of something far more significant."
Read 4 tweets
29 May
Can fidgeting help you focus?

Interesting article by Sarah Ayoub (@bysarahayoub) in the Guardian about this very common behavior. The adaptive functions of fidgeting are beginning to be recognized, says UC-Santa Cruz professor Katherine Isbister— Image
—and this has led, she tells Ayoub, "to an increase in innovation around products that are intentionally designed and marketed to support fidgeting."
Further, Ayoub notes, "Isbister is currently working with specialists in children’s social-emotional learning, including Julie Schweitzer of UC-Davis, to do research on the impact of fidget objects on attention for people with ADHD."
Read 8 tweets
28 May
One more good reason to move while we're doing mental work: we literally SEE things more clearly.

When we’re engaged in physical activity, our visual sense is sharpened, especially with regard to stimuli appearing in the periphery of our gaze. Image
This shift, which is also found in non-human animals, makes evolutionary sense: the visual system becomes more sensitive when we are actively exploring our environment. When our bodies are at rest—that is,
sitting still in a chair—this heightened acuity is dialed down.
Such activity-induced alterations in the way we process visual information constitute just one example of how moving our bodies changes the way we think. Scientists have long known that overall physical fitness
supports cognitive function.
Read 5 tweets
25 May
In his review of THE EXTENDED MIND in the Wall Street Journal today, writer Matthew Hutson singles out one particular theme of the book, and I'm so glad he did.

That theme concerns the fact that the raw materials of intelligent thought are by no means equitably distributed.
Hutson's conclusion reads:

"By removing the brain from the vat, Ms. Paul writes, thinking 'can become as dynamic as our bodies, as airy as our spaces, as rich as our relationships—as capacious as the whole wide world.'"
"And if you argue that only the privileged have access to untouched nature, large monitors, accomplished mentors and abundant classroom supplies, well, Ms. Paul has beat you to the punch."
Read 6 tweets
24 May
"Groups typically assume their most confident members are their most knowledgeable," note the authors of a new paper on collaboration.

That works out well for everyone when the most confident member also happens to be accurate in his or her judgment.
But I think we all know that confidence doesn't always equal accuracy! Hence the importance of what the researchers (Philip Tetlock and two others) call "collective confidence calibration."
A group is correctly calibrated when more accurate members are more confident in their own judgment, and less accurate members are less confident.

When this happens, the authors found, "subsequent group interactions are likelier to yield increased accuracy."
Read 5 tweets
24 May
We tend to think of attention as an individual resource: MY attention, directed at MY chosen target.

But SHARED attention is an equally valuable resource. When a group of people is skillfully attending to the same thing at the same time, they work better together.
Studies of groups laboring on a shared task—from students programming a robot to surgeons performing an operation—show that the members of effective
teams tend to synchronize their gaze, looking at the same areas at the same time.
More of these “moments of joint attention” are associated with more successful outcomes.

Moreover, research suggests that the ability to coordinate such moments can be acquired with practice.
Read 8 tweets

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